The Handmade Fair – Kirstie Allsopp’s pick of the week: Jayne Emerson

“The great joy in putting together an event like The Handmade Fair is the people I get to work with.  Everyone coming has a story to tell, something to teach, and we can all learn a thing or two.  I want to share as much about our experts and the people selling their wares so you too can get as excited about all of this as I am.”  Kirstie Allsopp

jayne emerson

Jayne Emerson

Jayne will be teaching you how to make Needle Felt Decorations in the Seasonal Skill Workshop Tent every day at 11:30am.

 You’re an expert in so many different crafts. Do you have a favourite?
 love all crafts that embellish fabric but machine embroidery was the first technique I learnt, aged about 14, in my school textile class. It is the technique that I have used the most through my career and I much prefer to draw with the needle than a pen and paper! For a long time I used my old 201k Singer for all my work – it’s amazing what you can create with a single straight stitch. I have files and files of designs that I have created for everyone from Topshop to Chanel and most of these are machine embroidered. Some are modern florals, others are layers of found fabrics collaged together and some could be mistaken for weaves; making samples is such a wonderful way to experiment. I love to share these ideas in my workshops and have recently started teaching machine embroidery as well as needle felting.

Do you have any quick tips for beginner crafters?
My tips for beginner crafters would be to join or start a little craft group, that way you have people to share your ideas and makes with! Also it can be hard to find the time to sit and craft so even if you meet up every two weeks you have a couple of hours to indulge in making and chatting! I would also say that trying different classes or workshops is an excellent way to try a few crafts without investing in all the tools.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I don’t think I really have a typical day at work! Sometimes I am teaching a workshop, other times I am grabbing a few hours in the middle of the night to design. However if I have the day to myself in the studio it goes something like this…..

I usually start my day by checking my emails then it’s over to Pinterest for a big dose of inspiration to transfer myself from mummy mode into work mode!

I inevitably have a pile of notes and scribbles that I have jotted down in the middle of the night so I look through them, then make a list of things I need to achieve that day and start designing. I often start my day with a clear list of things to do and then a happy accident will set me off in a completely different direction! I also make a huge mess when I am working but I often find one dropped fabric on top of another has inspired a fantastic fabric combination that I would never have thought of!

I never seem to remember to eat and suddenly my belly will rumble! If left to my own devices the studio day will continue well into the night….usually with a glass or two of wine!!

Are there any crafts you don’t like, or can’t do?
I am a very impatient crafter and not very good at anything fiddly! I am hopeless at knitting and crochet and even worse at hand stitching and beading!

Who inspired you to start doing what you do?
I had a really amazing textiles teacher at school called Mrs Shackleton. She was an inspiration and gave me the courage to follow my heart and go to Art College. She is still a good friend now.

What do you love most about working in the craft industry?
I love being so absorbed in what I am doing that I lose track of time, it’s like creative meditation! It also helps if the project you are working on turns out really well!

Craft is also great therapy; it’s wonderful when everyone leaves my workshop happy and clutching all their makes!

What new projects are you currently working on?
I have recently started making things again; I think I have been inspired by my own workshops! I make a lot of sample designs for my freelance work and, though I love this, it is wonderful to see a finished piece. My latest creations are a set of cushions embellished with vintage doilies. I am a big fan of recycling fabric and reinventing it into something modern.

What are you looking forward to most about being at The Handmade Fair?
I am so excited about being with so many fellow crafters, seeing what’s new in the shopping village, and just generally immersing myself in all things craft!

Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing at the Fair.
I will be teaching needle felting workshops in the Seasonal tent. We will be creating the needle felted robins that I taught Kirstie how to make a couple of years ago on Handmade Britain.

Jayne Emerson needle felt robin

Is there anyone you would like to work with, or meet, from the craft industry?
I would love to have a good chat about embroidery with Karen Nicol!

Don’t miss Jayne at The Handmade Fair (

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